Friday, January 16, 2015

409 Wins Are Great! Why Am I Not Jumping for Joy?

Today's announcement by Senator Jake Corman (R-PA) that the NCAA has repealed the sanctions against Penn State, including restoring the 112 wins the football team achieved during the years 1998-2001, was a pleasant surprise.

111 of those wins were achieved through the coaching of Joe Paterno. One of those wins was achieved through the coaching of interim head coach Tom Bradley after Coach Joe Paterno was summarily fired on November 9, 2011 by the Board of Trustees.

But let's not forget that these wins belonged primarily to the players, not the coaches.  And so especially for the players, I am happy.

I am delighted that all the efforts by Penn State football fans have finally come to a positive conclusion.  I was certainly part of those efforts.  At the Blue-White game in 2014, I helped place pinwheels at the statue site, along with numerous other fans who believe in honoring Joe:

More recently, I signed the "409" boards at the Student Book Store as part of the PR stunt by The Porterfield Group announcing the release of the documentary "The People's Joe", a tribute to the life and impact of Joe Paterno.  Two of my stories about Joe Paterno are featured in that film. 

So why am I not jumping for joy?  Because it's only a partial victory.  It doesn't make up for the incredible three years of angst the State College community has gone through in response to the allegations against Jerry Sandusky.

It does not make up for the pain and anxiety people in State College experienced wondering if the sanctions would include the death penalty for Penn State and change their community forever.

It does not make up for the fact that due process was so totally ignored, that media coverage was so biased, that anyone who lived in this community felt shamed in some way for what happened, even if they didn't know Sandusky or had anything to do with The Second Mile charity.

It doesn't make up for the anxiety we all felt when a plane flew overhead, proclaiming "Take the Statue Down or We Will", and then the federal government determined that it wasn't a terrorist threat and wasn't going to force the renter of that plane to reveal who had hired it.  Really?

It doesn't make up for the questions, wherever we went:  Did Joe Know? 

Again...and again...and again...this question has come up:  Did Joe know?  At away football games...the ones I remember were Wisconsin in 2011...Virginia, Illinois and Nebraska in 2012...Rutgers in 2014...opposing team fans who had a hard time with the idea that Joe Paterno could have "covered up" but believed the media hype nonetheless.

Because opposing team fans generally revered Joe Paterno...until the Sandusky accusations were revealed and then prosecuted as crimes.

And if you wore Penn State blue and white you were subjected to this, constantly.

And when I answered, they just thought I was one of those "Joebots" or something, defending Joe Paterno because, well, that's what a Penn State fan does.

Even on a river cruise in Europe last summer...I got that question.  It can be downright disheartening and exhausting to explain your viewpoint again and again.

As if I knew what Joe knew!

Fact is, from my own investigation into child abuse reporting laws, Joe Paterno reported in a timely manner what he knew to exactly the right people at Penn State according to what was mandated by Pennsylvania law to report up the chain of command in an organization.

And that is what I have told people.  He was praised by the Attorney General for his cooperation with the Grand Jury, and he was never charged with a crime. So the whole idea that Joe Paterno was complicit in some sort of a cover up for a former employee was always a stretch for me, and that's putting it mildly.

It doesn't make up for my husband Terry's continuous anger.  From the day the NCAA sanctions were announced in July 2012 to the day he died in January 2014, he was angry about what the NCAA did to Penn State and never understood why a former coach's criminal behavior would require such dire punishment against a football program or its players, who did nothing to achieve competitive advantage on the playing field.

It doesn't make up for those disappointing losses at Wisconsin in 2011, at the Ticket City Bowl, at Virginia in 2012, and at all those other games after the sanctions occurred where the difference between winning and losing could have been the talent of the players who chose to leave.

The settlement today also does not make up for the unanswered questions about the role of Penn State administrators in reporting or not reporting what they knew to authorities.  They are people I know and admire.  They are people we know to be honorable and honest.  And their story has not been told yet in a court of law.

We have as yet only heard the prosecutors' side of the story, in the form of a presentment, and then also a story concocted by a management consultant hired by the Board of Trustees who himself admitted, when he presented his opinion to the public, that his conclusions would not stand up in a court of law.  He didn't even interview two of the three defendants in the upcoming trials.

And now we find out that one of the people at the NCAA involved with approving the NCAA sanctions didn't even bother to read that management report that Freeh claimed wouldn't stand up in a court of law.

And yet the NCAA announced the worse ever sanctions against a sports program in their history based on that management report.

I'm happy that Joe's wins have been restored, and that the onerous sanctions on the football team that have done so much damage to their ability to compete have now been lifted.

But there is still angst...still work to be done to find out the real truth.

And so no, I'm not jumping for joy. 

But maybe I will sleep soundly knowing that eventually, justice will be served.


  1. Yes. There is much left to do. But this is a time for celebration. Next week we focus on Freeh, reforming the Board, Paterno Field. This weekend, we party!

  2. Phenomenal article that explains how so many of us feel. Thank you. WE ARE and continue to work on seeking the truth.

  3. Good insight and summary. WE ARE grateful for the perseverance of those seeking the truth and discovering the gaps in accountability.
    Victory? Yes. Learning? TBD..

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